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Locomotive Descriptions and Phases - GE AC4400CW

sample photo

CP #8529, a Phase 1g1 AC4400CW. This unit has GE's self-steering truck design.

The GE AC4400CW was introduced in 1993 alongside the similar Dash 9-44CW. It marked GE's foray into AC-powered mainline freight locomotives, closely following EMD's successful SD70MAC and eventually outselling it.

The Dash 9-44CW and AC4400CW carried over the general hood and cab styling established with the Dash 8-40CW. Much of the hood and cab remained the same, but the overall length was increased from 70' 8" to 73' 2". The AC4400CW can be told from the Dash 9-44CW chiefly by the large inverter cabinet on the left side behind the cab, together with a longer dynamic brake hood section and a shorter central air intake. Smaller distinctions include the thinner AC traction motor cables, larger traction motors suspended by "dogbone" hangers (in place of supports on the truck frame) and marginally shorter overall hood height over the central air intake.

Both models initially rode on GE's newly introduced high-adhesion 6-wheel truck, which was derived from the high-adhesion design used by MLW on the M-630 and M-636 some 25 years earlier. Compared to the MLW version, GE's design used a longer wheelbase and taller primary springs, but retained the bolsterless rubber pad secondary suspension. The high-adhesion truck differed from GE's earlier "floating-bolster" (FB-3) design in the absence of the bolster and in having all the traction motors oriented in the same direction.

Partway through production, a self-steering truck design was made available for the AC4400CW. The design was more complex than EMD's radial truck (which was used on all SD70M and SD70MAC production) and not all railroads adopted it. CP and CSXT were significant users, while BNSF and UP were not.

While the only major change in appearance was a redesigned inverter cabinet (Phase 2a below) the AC4400CW received a large number of smaller modifications over its production run. Production of the AC4400CW for American railroads ended in December 2004, after which it was replaced by the ES44AC in order to meet Tier II emissions standards. A few orders of the AC4400CW were made in subsequent years by QCM and QNSL in Canada.


These phases are of my own making. Many of the details come from earlier research I did in establishing production variations for the NS Dash 9-40CW. (See Dash 9 Series phases.)

Phase 1d through 1f all occurred within a very short time frame, with each phase representing only a few railroad orders and some orders (such as UP 6550-6699) spanning up to three phases. There was a bit of overlap or inconsistency in some of the details (as noted) but I felt the small number of units representing phase 1d through 1f did not warrant further subphases.

Numbers correspond to the illustrations shown below.

Phase 1a1 1a2 1a3 1a4 1b 1c1 1c2 1c3 1d 1e1 1e2 1f 1g1 1g2 2a1 2a2 2b 2c
Dates 1994-06 -
1994-10 -
1995-01 -
1995-09 -
1995-10 -
1995-11 1996-01 -
1996-07 -
1996-09 -
1997-03 -
1997-06 -
1997-09 -
1998-02 -
1999-04 -
1999-03 -
2001-01 -
2002-02 -
2003-01 -
Short hood top grabirons 1 Single, angled Double, straight
Rear bottom hood intakes 2 Small, even height Larger, variable height (taller on doors without latches; some units had shorter 2 rearmost left intakes)
Panel under
d/b intakesDynamic brake intakes located behind the cab on the right side
Rectangular indentation to clear hood door handle No rectangular indentation; rubber door stop added
Sloped door behind right-side radiator intake No Yes (sloped sheet present without door on some late CSXT Phase 1c2 units) No
Underframe 4   Revised spacing and height of traction motor cable brackets along underframe
Phase 1a1 1a2 1a3 1a4 1b 1c1 1c2 1c3 1d 1e1 1e2 1f 1g1 1g2 2a1 2a2 2b 2c
Rear end grabirons 5 Uneven spacing Even spacing (appeared on some Phase 1a2 and 1a3 units)
Air reservoir notch in fuel tank 6 Straight Notch in middle
Fuel tank 7 Suspended from underframe Welded as part of underframe
Corner steps 8 Zig-zag outer edge, vertical handrail notch, steps attached to stepwell individually Sloped outer edge, vertical handrail notch, steps attached to stepwell with sheet connecting all steps No handrail notch, sloped inner edge
Handrail behind
inverter cabinetInverter cabinet located behind the cab on the left side
Vertical main rail, additional corner rail above capacitor box (if present) Jog in main rail above capacitor box (present on all subsequent units)
Truck brake lines (Hi-Ad only) 23 Hoses curved toward fuel tank Hoses curved away from fuel tank, revised pipe connection across truck
Phase 1a1 1a2 1a3 1a4 1b 1c1 1c2 1c3 1d 1e1 1e2 1f 1g1 1g2 2a1 2a2 2b 2c
Square panel behind
battery boxesBattery boxes located behind the cab on the right side, with two large bolted panel covers
Hinged Bolted
Dynamic brake
intake panelsDynamic brake intakes located behind the cab on the right side
4 raised sections along bottom, hinged front panel (versions with 2 intakes) Bolted front panel (2 intakes) Smooth along bottom (1)Continuous raised ridge along bottom
Air reservoir pipes 12 90-degree connections Curved pipes (appeared on late Phase 1e1 units)
Cab 13   Small rectangular grill on left side moved rearward
Left handrail behind cab 14 Single rail Double rail, taller stanchions (2)
Fuel gauge 15 Wide, recessed gauge housing Narrow gauge housing (inconsistent in Phase 1e2 and 1f)
Right cab subbase intakes 16 Screen Louvres (except CP Phase 1f and 1g units)
Phase 1a1 1a2 1a3 1a4 1b 1c1 1c2 1c3 1d 1e1 1e2 1f 1g1 1g2 2a1 2a2 2b 2c
Air reservoir supports 17 C-shaped Upside-down U-shaped
Bottom of
inverter cabinetInverter cabinet located behind the cab on the left side
3 narrow horizontal panels, bottom edge lower than cab side sill bottom edge higher than cab side sill 3 rectangular X-panels
Top of inverter cabinet 19 7 narrow vertical panels (1 + 1 + group of 5) 4 rectangular panels (1 + group of 3 panels); lower top edge 3 rectangular panels (1 + 2 large X-panels)
Underframe 20   Revised traction motor cable routing under cab (appeared on late Phase 1g units)
Central air intake 21 At front of auxiliary hood section Moved rearward
Radiator lift rings 22 Square, with holes for flag holder Rounded, slanted
Phase 1a1 1a2 1a3 1a4 1b 1c1 1c2 1c3 1d 1e1 1e2 1f 1g1 1g2 2a1 2a2 2b 2c


  1. UP 6625-6634 had unique dynamic brake intake panels between Phase 1e1 and 1e2, which were smooth along the bottom but with two small notches.
  2. Left handrail behind cab, Phase 2c: Added stanchion immediately behind cab, top rail not attached to cab (except UP 5914-5981)


These drawings illustrate typical early (Phase 1a1) and late (Phase 2c) AC4400CW's built to UP specs.

Click on the links to toggle between the images.

Left: Phase 1a1 -  Phase 2c

Right: Phase 1a1 -  Phase 2c

Sample Photos

hi-ad truck photo
self-steering truck photo

Hi-Ad truck (top, on CP #8519) and self-steering truck (bottom, on CP #9734).

hi-ad truck photo
self-steering truck photo

Phase 1g1-1g2 inverter cabinet (top, on CP #8519) and later Phase 2a1-2c inverter cabinet (bottom, on CP #9734).
rooftop photo

A rooftop view of the rear of CP AC4400CW #9568.

overhead cab photo

Overhead view of the cab of CP AC4400CW #8513.

front left detail photo
middle left detail photo
rear left detail photo

Detail photos showing the conductor's side of CP AC4400CW #8561 (Phase 1g1).

rear right detail photo
middle right detail photo
front right detail photo

Detail photos showing the engineer's side of CP AC4400CW #8529 (Phase 1g1).


The Diesel Shop. (2014). General Electric AC-Series Roster. Retrieved January 2017 from

Foster, Gerald. (1996). A Field Guide to Trains. New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin.

Strack, D. (2009). Union Pacific Diesel Locomotives. Retrieved January 2017 from